Farida Srihadi & Nunung W. S. (NI) at Taman Ismail Marzuki, Jakarta (1988)

artdesigncafé - art | 28 January 2012
Page 4 of 5

Farida Srihadi & Nunung W. S.

Finally to be discussed were the two strongest painters in the exhibition, Nunung W. S. and Farida Srihadi.

Farida Srihadi’s work was a continuation of the work displayed last year: Vast, calm expanses of beach or grassy mountain plains, depicted in thin washes of oil, with colors blended to gradual richness. The work hovered between representative and abstract— clearly Farida’s earlier purely abstract [studies] paid off in terms of solidity and sureness in composition.

After years of study at ITB in Holland and in London— and painting in the shadow of a famous painter-husband— and after years of painting about the women of Bali, as she sees as strong and equal to their men in work and at home without conflict, Farida Srihadi has now come fully into her own. Her paintings were no longer statements about women (which inevitably become statements about men), or about things, or daily life. Gone is the human element from her work— what remains is the landscape, in its essential form. "I seek to depict the spirit of nature, nature which is grand and fertile— something beyond the physical experience", Farida says.

Nunung W. S. was the most purely abstract of all the Nuansa painters, and indeed one of the strongest abstract painters in Indonesia. Last year she was still working in oils and her canvasses all showed distinctly different compositions— all pared down to the minimum of form, monumental in their simplicity and examples of how form can be presented by color alone. Her colors were rich, superimposed layers of wide brushstrokes of thin oil paint.

Even then [Nunung W. S.] was seeking a quick method of working, a method that did not lose the emotional intensity of inspiration— and a method which is very hard to achieve with slow-drying oils. This year showed her recent experiments with tempera and acrylic, and the results were quite different from her earlier work.

Due to the lack of large format watercolor paper, Nunung W. S. was forced to combine smaller sheets of paper into larger surfaces. To avoid visible "seams" she used irregular bits of paper and exploited the connections between bits as a textural expression. Thus a new style arose out of technical circumstances. On this textured surface, Nunung painted with wide strokes of water-based paint. Using a lot of black, and leaving the paper to shine through brush strokes, the feeling in her present work [is] both more contrasting as well as lighter, without the earlier depth of coloristic richness.

"I am not sure I like the effect of the ripple paper yet," Nunung WS said. "But I always try to enter into something new, to see what will come out in the end."

Thus Nunung W. S. was caught here, in the middle of a process, clearly going somewhere, and knowing herself that she has not quite arrived. It was naturally easier to relate to the work of a smaller number of people, so from that point of view it must be said that this year’s exhibition was more successful than last year’s. It must also be remembered that familiarity was an important determining factor: the more one has a chance to see individual artists’ work over a longer period of time, the easier it is to develop a visual relationship with them, the better one feels one knows them, and the fuller of nuances one’s reactions to their work will be.